British Author
Born 1891 Died 1930

Romer Wilson was the literary pen name adopted by Florence Roma Muir Wilson, or O'Brien as she later became after her marriage. She was born on the 26th December 1891 at 30 Collegiate Crescent, Ecclesall in Sheffield, the daughter of Arnold Muir Wilson, a local solicitor. She was educated at the West Heath School in Ham, and at Girton College, Cambridge where she read Law but graduated "with mediocre honours" in 1914.

During World War I she sold potatoes on behalf of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, whilst working on what was to be her first novel, Martin Schüler, being inspired to write by the boredom induced by the war. She wrote the first half in three weeks during the summer of 1915, but then got stuck and threw the manuscript away. A friend retrieved it, and she eventually returned to it in 1917, when she spent another three weeks finishing it. The tale of an obsessive German composer and his lust for fame and featuring an inevitable tragic denouement, Martin Schüler created something of a literary sensation when it was published in October 1918; Edward Shanks hailed the novel as an "extraordinary tour de force of the creative imagination".

Her second novel, If All These Young Men, which took as its subject the impact of the war on the home front, appeared in the following year, bit it was her third novel, The Death of Society, which chronicled the realtionship between an Englishman and an older married Norwegian woman, was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in 1921.

She was in Italy correcting proofs of her fourth novel, The Grand Tour, when she met an American named Edward Joseph H. O'Brien, They were married shortly afterwards and in 1928 they moved to Switzerland and set up home at the Villa Pauliska in Locarno. She wrote three more novels after The Grand Tour but they failed to achieved quite the same impact as her early novels, and her work has now been largely forgotten and has received little in the way of recent critical attention. She now appears to remembered only for her romantic and rather inaccurate biography of Emily Brontë, and for editing several collections of fairy-tales which, on the evidence of the prices now quoted for Red Magic: A Collection of the World's Best Fairy Tales from All Countries (Jonathan Cape, 1930), featuring illustrations by Kay Nielsen, appear to be collector's items.

According to Robert Nichols her face "bore an extraordinary resemblance to that of Keats" and just like John Keats she died of tuberculosis at Lausanne on the 11th January 1930 shortly after her thirty-eighth birthday.

Bibliography

Novels

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